Hey Michael Jeude:
Thanks for all your comments on my various posts, you seem to be a serious thoughtful guy and you aren't insulting to us creationists as so many with your basic mindset are, so I really appreciate it and have been trying to give you some thoughtful answers in return. If you didn't keep the URLs to the various posts you may not find them and I don't think I could find them myself at this point either, unfortunately, but they're out there somewhere.
I still have a few to get to, but I thought I'd bring this one up front, just because it gives me an opportunity to say something in what I hope is a clearer way than usual, so if you see it you'll know I answered at least this one, which you posted on my entry titled Evolution, Racism, Conscience-Free Murder etc.
Since I'm bringing it up front I'm going to give a new answer to it here, hopefully a better one.
Here is M. Jeude's comment:
Christianity: Crusades, witch burnings, corrupted religious figures, and I'm sure a fair about of random killers. All who adopt the name and methods of your religion for evil purposes. It is the same for every religion or philosophical belief, the vast majority abide by social norms. Granted back in Medieval Europe witch burnings where considered acceptable, crusades against any "non-believe" and other "holy" wars are acceptable by the group carrying them out, and some how killers allows rationalize why they kill, even saying "It was gods will"You've raised many issues here that I didn't get to in my comment at the blog post, but the main thing I want to say is the same thing I said there:
I find the argument to lack depth, how is atheist less moral than a christian? On an individual bases I've met "Christians" who acted less compassionate, open, and calm than myself. I've also met other Atheist who I wanted to knock the chip on their shoulder off and contemplated worst.
How I personally have focused on this topic is what virtues create a "good" society. A society where everyone feel they can be open, calm, free, respected, and that they are the only limitation to what they can achieve. I'm sure with more thoughts we could end up with a excellent description of a Utopia, but then the question is what virtues should a person have to be "good". Both have the flaw that its from perspective what "good" is, and that varies by cultures, regions, experiences, and belief/philosophy. As a question what do you think are the virtues of a "good" person?
How evolution, a frame work of natural process of biological change, is any more dehumanizing than the bleak, dark nature that humans are capable of I do not comprehend. Neither evolution nor atheism states anything about obliterate, ignore, punish, all who are not like you. Just like your Bible never says go forth and kill in my name.
Everyone is always eager to point out the evils others do, and fain the purity and innocence of those of like mind or other sociological factors. They only focus upon the light they wish to see in themselves that we forget about the fact we are capable of dark and terrible things as well.
I'm not talking about individuals here although it's often hard to keep the distinctions clearly in mind. I agree with you that "the vast majority abide by social norms" and not a strict understanding of the implications of their religion or atheism or evolutionism and so on. We're not talking about your average atheist or believer in evolution here who don't necessarily base their lives on these philosophies, but about the serious philosophers and world shapers who use them very very seriously indeed to justify conclusions that most people wouldn't even dream of.
Two Philosophical Systems
The difference between the serious implications of Biblical Christianity and evolutionism is really enormous when you do attempt to follow their precepts strictly. Biblical Christianity teaches that all human beings are descended from one human pair, all are made in the image of God, morality is built into us by God Himself, and death is not natural to God's creation, which gives human beings a very high status, a sort of noble status. This is a very different thing from the implications you can draw from a theory that says we're the product of mindless chemical processes which somehow accidentally made us moral creatures and not reliably so at that, of no more intrinsic value than those processes etc etc and so on.
This makes it easy to dismiss the unborn human being as just a piece of tissue you can throw away at will, and makes eugenics on the level of doing away with "undesirable" genes through euthanasia something to seriously and scientifically consider if you want to "improve" the human "stock," and so on.
Also although Christians have certainly been guilty of racism you can see there is no justification for it if we're all descended from one pair of parents, while evolution with its heavy emphasis on stages of development from one form to another does invite racist thinking.
You and others may not take evolution as far as to treat human beings as expendable chemical experiments, but it's certainly implicit in the theory and Hitler and Margaret Sanger among others DID take it to these logical conclusions. Such implications are inherent in the theory itself.
Again this isn't about individuals, it's about a system of thought that most individuals who supposedly subscribe to it don't pursue to its logical conclusion. I often have to try to clarify this distinction when I'm talking about Roman Catholicism, which is a topic I am pursuing lately, because there I'm talking about the Vatican itself and its historical actions and its written documents which most Catholics don't have a clue about, who just go on living according to the gospel as they understand it.
The Crusades you mention were a Catholic enterprise for instance. I used to defend it as Christian but the more I learn about this the more I understand they were strictly a Roman effort to take the "Holy Land" for the Pope, something I want to do a post on soon, and Protestants down the centuries have condemned the Pope as Antichrist himself,. Which may not mean anything to you, but at least it ought to get across that Romanism was rejected all through history by "Bible believers" or Protestants as not Christian at all. Not something you'll hear about if your sources have been affected by the Romanist point of view.
So my point isn't that "an atheist is less moral than a Christian." Some atheists have a very strong conscience (a remnant of the image of God in all of us) while some Christians who have been saved by the grace of God may have such a history of sin they take a long time to overcome it, and we're all still vulnerable to falling into new sins if we don't daily renew our faith.
This isn't about individuals at all but about systems of thought, philosophical systems.
So my point is that, while we're all sinners who may do terrible things, only one of these two philosophical systems can be used to JUSTIFY those terrible things.